Updated: May 4, 2020 

As we continue to evaluate the COVID-19 situation, we are adjusting our policies and procedures to ensure we prioritize patient and staff safety. Effective immediately, Emory Healthcare (EHC) will continue to limit visitors within our facilities.

We have updated the exceptions to our visitor policy (listed below) for specific patients, as well as screening protocols, and ask that all visitors wear masks and practice social distancing. The new policy will be in place until the transmission of COVID-19 is no longer a threat to patients, staff, and the community. 

Visitor Screening: All visitors will be screened daily for symptoms, including fever greater than or equal to 100°F, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sore throat, congestion that differs from their typical seasonal allergies, body aches, fatigue, loss of smell/taste, diarrhea. If a visitor says “YES” to any of the screening symptoms, they will not be allowed entry.

Visitor Masks: All admitted visitors are required to wear a mask. 

Patient Visitor Guidelines:

  • No children under age 16.
  • We strongly encourage no visitors over the age of 70 and no visitors with chronic conditions such as lung or heart disease, as these persons are at higher risk of complications if they contact COVID-19.
  • One visitor will be allowed the same day of a patient’s discharge for planning and education purposes. 
  • Persons Under Investigation (PUI) or confirmed COVID-19 patients: No visitors, except for end of life or obstetrics PUIs as defined in the policy.
    • If a visitor is allowed under the outlined exceptions, the visitor must wear the recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) for the duration of the stay, including a mask.
  • Inpatient hospitalizations – Authorized visitors must adhere to the following guidelines:
    • Must stay in the patient room and will receive a badge/band, with the current date – badge/band must be worn for the duration of their stay. 
    • Will be screened for symptoms daily.
    • Will receive food trays delivered to the room to reduce their movement throughout the facility.
  • Vendors will be restricted to mission-critical or direct patient care activities and will only be allowed in the building or clinic by appointment only.
  • For the viewing of decedent bodies, visitors will be escorted to the room/morgue for viewing and then escorted back to the facility entrance for departure.

Exceptions to the Visitor Policy:

  • Obstetrics: Obstetric patients may have one visitor, birth partner, birth coach, or Doula – must be the same designated visitor throughout the patient’s stay.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU): Patients may have one visitor – must be the same designated visitor throughout the patient’s stay.
  • End of Life: Patients admitted for end of life evaluation and treatment, or patients being evaluated for and/or receiving hospice care, including PUIs, suspected COVID-19 and COVID-19 positive patients, may have two visitors. End of life is defined as anticipated death with an active do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order in place and/or planned withdrawal of life-sustaining interventions (e.g., ventilator). Clergy are considered visitors and will be allowed for end of life situations as one of the two allowable visitors.
  • Minors: All minors, patients under the age of 18, will be allowed one visitor for the duration of their visit or hospitalization. 
  • Outpatient Surgery and Procedures: Patients undergoing outpatient surgery or procedures may have one designated visitor who will be permitted to assist with the arrival and registration process if needed. This visitor will leave the facility during the procedure, remain near the premises, and will be contacted by phone post-procedure.
  • Outpatient Appointments: Patients may have one visitor if they need physical assistance for an appointment or support for cognitive or behavioral impairments (including but not limited to Power of Attorney).
  • Inpatient hospitalizations: Patients undergoing inpatient surgery or being admitted to the hospital may have one designated visitor who will be permitted to assist with the arrival and registration process if needed. This visitor will be asked to leave the building during the procedure and for the remainder of the inpatient hospitalization unless an alternate exception is applicable. Visitors and/or caregivers will be kept informed through telephone and virtual communications.
  • Emergency Department: No visitors are allowed with the following exceptions:
    • Patients with disruptive behavior, behavioral health, altered mental status, developmental delays, or safety concerns in which a family member is key to their care or necessary to provide a history may have one visitor.

We do not foresee any other visitor policy exceptions. However, for extenuating circumstances occurs, the request will need to be submitted to the entity’s local leadership, Incident Command Center, or Administrator On Call (AOC) for approval prior to visitor entry.